Obama vs. McCain 2008: Round 16: Cindy McCain vs. Michelle Obama

This is the sixteenth of a weekly series of public forums on TMB. Watch for a new round every Monday.

The topic of this week’s forum regards the two potential First Ladies: Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama. I’ll leave this fairly open, but I want to keep it focused on what is most important (e.g., who will be a better First Lady, who will be a good role model, etc.). Degrading comments are inappropriate and will be deleted.

Substantive comments concerning possible roles of the First Lady are welcome.

Next week: Urban Concerns

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12 Responses

  1. Hmm, clearly not a very popular topic.

  2. Speaking for myself, I just don’t really have anything to say on the topic.

  3. I liked the story of how the Obamas met and later married, as recounted by Barack in The Audacity of Hope. It was sweet and “normal” in a way I think a lot of people could relate with.

    The story of how John and Cindy met and later married, I don’t like nearly as much. That’s negatively affected my perception of her in a big way.

    Aside from that, I think both ladies have the capacity to be good First Ladies.

  4. Well, I guess I’ll take a minute to defend Michelle Obama against people like Mitt Romney (who made a subtle jab against her by saying he’s always been proud of his country). I can’t tell you how tired I became of receiving email forwards about people (like Michelle Malkin) dogging on her for saying, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.” (Malkin, by the way, called Obama’s followers “a sad, empty, narcissistic, ungrateful, unthinking lot.”)

    Certainly Michelle was unwise to say this. But people were very unthoughtful in the way they pounced on her for this. Imagine, for example, if someone said something like, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really happy.” Such a statement does not mean the person has never been happy at all in their adult lifetime, it means that they are particularly happy–really happy–right now, for the first time. They may even be caught up in a moment of particular gladness and rapture. Certainly this is what Michelle Obama could have meant — that in that moment she was REALLY proud of her country. Certainly all of us have such moments, and depending on what we mean by “really,” they may occur throughout our adult lives.

  5. I can say that I seem to like Michelle better than Cindy, but I can’t provide any reason or source to explain why. Overall, I’m not really concerned about the candidate’s spouse or their children.

  6. I think that Michelle has more in common with the majority of Americans because of her background. She came from an average family and wasn’t in a position to inherit big bucks, like Cindy. I don’t mean to diss Cindy for that because hey, how can you fault someone for being born rich? I’m sure she has done great things with all her money and has been generous. But let’s be honest, does someone born into Cindy’s circumstances really know what it’s like to have to scrimp and save? I think that Michelle is someone that many more can relate to because of her life experience. She is more about “The American Dream.” It’s not about the family you were born into, but what you made of yourself.

    I also think it would be refreshing to see a black woman as First Lady. I know that race shouldn’t be a issue, but I’ll be 100% honest and say that it is a factor for me personally. I’m excited about what it will mean to have a black First Family and I think that it will inspire many of all races.

    I’m also going to be very shallow now and judge them on their appearances and what impression I get of them. Cindy looks like conservative perfection. Always perfectly and conservatively dressed, not a hair out of place, picture-perfect smile, clapping and nodding at every single thing that her husband says. To be honest, she reminds me of some of the royalty we see in Europe. I guess you could say the same thing about Michelle, but she just seems so much more down-to-earth, more “real.” When she gave that “first time I’ve been proud of my country speech,” despite the criticism she got for it, it seemed she was speaking from her heart and with passion, not just a script.

  7. I like the Obama family. His book was very endearing. But I do have some concerns about Michelle.

    I feel that some of her attitudes are a bit disturbing. I think she tries to make things sound worse than they are. Income growth has indeed stagnated – since 2001. Not since the 1970s as she has claimed. In fact, I find her claims that things are so much worse now than they used to be to be completely preposterous.

    Further, and this is a sensitive issue, I am concerned about some of her racial attitudes. She once complained that she got a very low SAT score. If that is true – and we must assume that it is – how on earth did she get into Princeton? I had a very high SAT score and I couldn’t get into Princeton. Whether it was affirmative action or something else, it seems that America has been pretty good to Michelle Obama – too good for her to complain as much as she does. For someone to underperform in high school like both she and Obama did, the American system has allowed them to end up in some pretty good schools and some pretty good jobs.

    In fact, America has brought her from her lower-class childhood to an income of over $4 million dollars! Now that is the realization of the American dream, despite her claims that it doesn’t exist anymore.

    This current crisis – while certainly unprecedented – is going to eventually be resolved and America will resume its historical growth as it always has after crises. Michelle and Barack both have exploited the current situation beyond its actual proportion, and Michelle has fed on some deep racial tensions to justify her attitudes. That bothers me. However, it probably won’t affect my vote.

  8. I should also add that I agree with most of the comments about Cindy McCain, but I think it is a bit unfair to simply judge her on appearances and ignore her accomplishments. Yes, she has grown up with wealth, much like Obama’s children will. However, has anybody read about her work with health and the developing world? Her work in orphanages? Her charity giving? Her choice to adopt an Indian child and give her a life she never could have had without the McCains? Was anybody going to mention these things, or were we just going to write her off since she dresses too nice?

    FD asks, “does someone born into Cindy’s circumstances really know what it’s like to have to scrimp and save?” No. But she has worked to understand the plight of poverty in much harder circumstances than Michelle Obama has. We shouldn’t hold peoples’ wealth against them, if they have worked hard to understand the world of poverty.

    Finally, FD, I understand your excitement about having a black First Family. And I think Obama would be a fine president. But if I were black, I would be thoroughly offended by that attitude. As a Mormon, I was offended that people supported Romney just because he was Mormon. I want the first Mormon president to be someone I respect, with integrity, that would not only be a good president but also represent Mormonism well.

    Similarly, I hope the first black president is the best the black community has to offer. Judging from Obama’s shady politics – accepting over $100,000 from Fannie and Freddy to protect them, thus harming Americans, for example – he is not the best that the black community has to offer. That doesn’t mean I think he lacks integrity or capability or that he won’t be a good president. I only make the argument because I feel it’s unfortunate to choose a president based on race.

  9. Cindy should be applauded for the things that you mentioned, Ryan. I especially love the fact that she adopted from Mother Teresa’s orphanage. The story goes that she came home with a baby girl and said to her husband, “meet your new daughter.” That took guts and I’m pleased that she did it. I must say, though, that that adoption seemed to go even smoother and more spontaneously than Angelina Jolie’s. Adoption without all the waiting and red tape seems to be possible only for people with money. But I don’t know all the details of the McCain adoption story, so I guess it’s not entirely fair for me to comment on it. It’s just an impression I’ve gotten that she went to one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages in Bangladesh, met this little girl, and brought her home with her, which is why her husband didn’t even find out about it. I think, by the way, that the McCains had to endure some ridiculous rumours earlier in the primaries about their adoptive daughter and they handled it well.

    I should perhaps re-phrase my enthusiasm for having a black First Family to clear up any misconceptions. I realize that I would offend blacks by saying I’d be thrilled just by having ANY black family in the White House, regardless of what qualifications the president has. Let me just say, I wouldn’t be thrilled about having Jeremiah Wright or Louis Farrakhan in the White House just because they’re black. Being black or being Mormon shouldn’t be the only criteria, even if it may be a personal one to certain people. I’d feel the same if there were a Hispanic candidate, because it would be something I could really identify with personally, being half-Hispanic. I will admit that I was in a way pulling for Romney, because he was a Mormon, even though I would vote for Obama over Romney because I agree more with Obama’s policies. I like Romney as a person and think he would have represented Mormonism pretty well, even though I despise a lot of his political views. I generally like Obama as a person and the fact that he’s black just makes it so much more a plus to me personally because I think it would be great to have him as president, plus a minority family in the White House for the first time. Obama may not be the best that the black community has to offer, just as McCain probably isn’t the best example of the white community. There are probably plenty of “better” people out there from both communities, who have more integrity and have made better decisions in their lives. But the point it, these are the two candidates that are left.

    I hope you all get what I’m saying without thinking I’m trying to patronize anyone based solely on their race. I would never wish to offend anyone in that way. Coming from a family of different minority races, I just identify strongly with minorities and am happy about seeing them succeed when it’s deserved.

  10. I have to admit, I haven’t researched in detail the backgrounds of either potential First Ladies. Most of what I “know” is based on reading articles from different news sites. I was recently reading about Cindy’s addiction story and found some of the accusations troubling (see link below). Nevertheless, I’m sure she’s done some wonderful charitable work that should not be forgotten.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/09/11/ST2008091103947.html

  11. Thanks for a clarification. That makes sense.

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